Archive for March, 2011

Something clicked

We are not party to what went on in Isaac’s mind between his blessing of Esau, (and Jacob in disguise) and the second blessing he gave to his younger son, before sending him off to seek a non-Canaanite wife.

We are not given any details as to what conversations he might have had with God in the interim.

His first two blessings focused on plenty, and power.

But something happened. The second blessing given to Jacob, and this time truly intended for him, was markedly different. The reference to God is up-graded from God to God Almighty. This time the blessings of Abraham are bequeathed.

“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” (NASB)

Jacob left home, fleeing a wrathful brother, but with a blessing of his true inheritance,  obedient this time to both parents.

Esau, grasping something of the import, went out and added a daughter of Ishmael to his wives.


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What was Isaac thinking?

Looking at the story of Isaac, one is struck by his peaceable characteristics.  No sign of rebellion, only trust and obedience, on the day his father announced he was going to offer him as a sacrifice.  Deeply attached to his mother, and then deeply in love with his wife. No hint of second love interests or concubines.

Rather than create issues with the Philistines, Isaac moves and moves again, digging one well after another. He obeys God and does not go down to Egypt.  He receives the promises.

What was he thinking then, when he called in his elder son , to bless him in words, diametrically opposed, to divine prophecy?

Rebekah had been given the word.

“Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people shall be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger.”

And here is Isaac intoning to the supposed Esau,

“Be master of your brothers,
And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

What was he thinking?

Out-stubborning God?

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What was Rebekah thinking?

What was she thinking as she pushed Jacob out the door to bring her young goats, as she dressed him in his brother’s robes, arranged the goatskins on his arms,  placed the savory dish in his hands, and sent him in to appropriate his brother’s blessing.

What went through her mind as she sent this son, back to Mesopotamia, fleeing for his life?

From the day she first capably watered ten camels, and followed Abraham’s servant, Rebekah showed herself to be decisive, quick-thinking, an organizer.

Now organizing God?

Shel Silverstein once wrote,

And some kind of help is the kind of help that helping’s all about,

and some kind of help is the kind of help we can all do without.

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When a foreigner prays. . .

I was watching the news last night and they briefly interviewed a lady from Benghazi, Those interviewing seemed dubious about the rebels capabilities. How did she expect them to succeed?  “Only God” she replied, “Only God.”

I thought about  King Solomon’s prayer that I have recently been reminded of. He entreated God to answer the prayer of the foreigners who would come to his newly dedicated temple.

When one appeals to the God of the Universe, he responds.

If those protesting in Libya are feel inadequate,  if the coalition making air strikes is confused about leadership and objectives, and if human lives are at stake- wouldn’t this be a good time to ask God for guidance?

If those battling nuclear meltdown are finding their technological skills taxed, wouldn’t this be a good time to ask God for help?

He, who is not restricted to temples made with hands, will surely answer.

Solomon’s prayer is still relevant.

“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a distant land because of your name —for they shall hear of your great name, your mighty hand, and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house,  then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you.

Not being Jewish, I am of course a foreigner, and I believe God answers.

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Esau was a Redneck

A hunter, and tough.

Jacob was a wuss, cooking lentil stuff.

One strutted. One connived. Forget sucking thumbs in utero.  These two practiced kick-boxing in the womb and never grew out of it.

The apparent perfection of Genesis 24 unravels quickly in Genesis 25.  This is the “chosen family.”  Why so messy?

It’s not so hard to weigh in against the Gaston, of Beauty and the Beast but what’s to root for in Jacob?

Paul writes of the twins:

. . .though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call, Rebekah was told, “The elder will serve the younger.”
As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy.
Does this help?
I keep butting up against God saying,  “I am God, you are not.”

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So untidy

Life, that is.

Libya for instance.  I read the news, and was horrified when Gaddafi troops poured fuel over their own and immolated soldiers unwilling to fire on protesters.  There were reports of patients killed in their hospital beds, their bodies taken away to remove the evidence. Clean-up crews scooping up corpses newly slain and sluicing away the blood to tidy the streets of Tripoli.

I prayed for justice, against the perpetration of evil.

The world at large, the powers that be, seemed hung in the stays.

Now I watch sleek needled fighter planes take off to make and enforce a no-fly zone  and part of me says, “These are the keepers of Guantanamo Bay, and Private Manning,” can I trust them either?

I remember Morris West’s haunting novel Harlequin.  In the fight against unquestioned evil Harlequin comes to the crunch,

But I couldn’t deceive Bogdanovich and he wouldn’t let me deceive myself. . . Came the day when a decision had to be made. I went to see him at the flower shop. He was playing with a tiny kitten, a stray that had wandered in from the street. He asked me to state exactly what I wanted.  I told him: my money back, and Yanko’s life for Julie’s. He didn’t argue the decision. He simply broke the kitten’s neck and laid it on the desk in front of me. Then he said, ‘That’s what it means, Mr. Harlequin. Can you do it?”

It has been a long time since I’ve read the book.  I no longer remember the plot.  But that paragraph has never left me.

I still pray to the righteous Judge of all the earth, because I believe that prayer is a critical element in the universal war against evil.  I pray that the Judge of all the earth will do right.

The tangles are so untidy that I can hardly follow the threads.

I hang on to the belief that, “He is God and I am not.”

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Gutsy Gal with Gumption Gets Guy

She’s a rich girl, a darling of her nanny, maids in waiting a-plenty, but she’s off to the spring herself with a jar to fill. She’s not above rolling up her sleeves to water a camel train worth of dusty guzzlers.  And she’s got the spunk to up and leave home, to choose a husband sight unseen, now, before second thoughts have a chance to intrude.

Worthy of a Munsch Princess, or what?

If I admire Rebecca, I really warm to Abraham’s elderly servitor even more.

He runs the whole household for Abraham and is his oldest servant. That’s a camp with three hundred home-raised fighters alone, so quite an establishment.

Loyal, and willing to swear.  Practical – thinking ahead, “And what if the woman won’t come back with me?”  Planning the logistics- Ten camels,  gifts calculated to impress, a detail of men. Prayerful – trusting God’s leading.

I love his approach to getting guidance.  He asks for a specific answer to a problem, and acts immediately when it comes.

He doesn’t abandon common sense in the process.  And he’s canny enough to get in and get out.

So often we ask God for advice.  Then we are tempted to dither, questioning if we’ve heard correctly, until we talk ourselves right out of action.

If you haven’t read Genesis 24 recently you should give it a re-run.

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